Immigration bail reporting: the basics

Legal Updates

Many people who have claimed asylum or have other immigration status in the UK and have not had a positive decision have to regularly report at their local Home Office reporting centre or a police station. At every reporting visit, you may be at risk of detention, particularly if your application has been refused, which you may not know until you go and report. Reporting is an extremely stressful situation for many people.

Following the passing of the Safety of Rwanda Act, and people being detained under Rwanda powers, we have been asked to provide information about reporting conditions. 

For suggestions for our allies who want to provide solidarity presence outside immigration reporting centres, from people with lived experience of reporting, please also read this blog.

This blog on immigration reporting includes the following information:

What is a reporting condition?

The conditions of release on bail (either because you were in detention and have been released, or because you do not have immigration status in the UK) are usually a specified address, perhaps having financial condition supporters and – before the Home Office’s most recent decision – a requirement to report regularly at a police station or reporting centre. Sometimes people are released on condition of being fitted with an electronic tagging device.

Reporting can happen in person at an immigration reporting centre, or on the phone. To learn more about reporting by telephone, read our blog here. Physical reporting should not typically be a requirement for unaccompanied children (under the age of 18). 

At every reporting visit, you may be at risk of detention, particularly if your application has been refused, which you may not know until you go and report.

If you go to a reporting centre to report, you need to take your immigration reporting paperwork, such as your Bail 201 and your mobile phone to show security your SMS message at the door.

You are meant to get a text message, email or letter from the Home Office notifying you when you have a new reporting appointment.

Some people are made to report twice a month, while others report as much as twice a week. Sometimes travelling to the reporting centre can take hours, while the actual signing in might only take a few minutes. 

This is a very distressing experience, regardless of how frequently you are made to report. 

Challenging a reporting condition

The type of evidence you would use will depend on the circumstances. For example, if you are explaining that you have a mental or physical disability which makes reporting difficult, you will need to provide a letter from your GP, or mental health nurse, or support worker, to show this. 

The latest Home Office guidance on reporting conditions was published in January 2023, and confirms there should be a ‘blended’ approach to reporting (this means a mixture of phone and in person reporting). 

The organisation Migrants Organise have created resources with more information about challenging a reporting condition. It has template letters you can use to challenge your reporting condition, and ask that it is changed.

Helping someone with this kind of application is legal advice. The guide from Migrants Organise says:

Requesting a variation of Bail Condition is considered immigration advice, so only accredited advisers (e.g. under the OISC or Law Society) can request for variation on behalf of someone else.

Reporting centres

The details of each reporting centre in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, including address, email, phone number, and opening hours are listed here

You may also be asked to report at a police station.

What happens if I miss a reporting appointment or stop reporting?

If you need to contact a reporting centre to let them know that you are unable to attend your appointment, you can contact them by telephone or email. Make sure any email includes your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • Home Office reference
  • mobile phone number

If you miss a reporting appointment, the Home Office guidance on non-compliance says (on page 7): 

There are circumstances in which a person may have a legitimate reason for failing to attend a reporting event. The staff member contacting the person should make every reasonable effort to find out the reason for any absence, but the onus remains on the person to provide a reasonable explanation for their failure to attend.

A reasonable explanation for failing to attend a reporting event can include:

• illness

• severe travel disruption

• a pre-arranged appointment with a doctor or specialist

Evidence supporting the person’s absence should be provided where possible, such as a doctor’s note.

So, if you missed a reporting appointment but did not provide a reason before it, you can explain afterwards with evidence. Try and do this as soon as possible, and explain any delay in doing so.

If you stop attending reporting appointments without an explanation, the Home Office may consider that you have failed to comply with your immigration bail reporting condition. They will first call you (or your emergency contacts) to understand why you have not attended. 

If you do not provide an explanation or if no contact is made, the Home Office may carry out an ‘arrest visit’ at your last known address, with an intention to take you to immigration detention. Or, they may seek to change your bail conditions to something more strict, like an electronic monitoring device (sometimes called a ‘GPS tag’). 

If you do not attend reporting events, and you do not show within a reasonable time that the failure was due to circumstances beyond your control, there is a risk that your asylum claim might be treated as withdrawn.

If your asylum claim is ‘withdrawn’ this means that the Home Office will no longer consider it, and you will not receive a decision. 

Your asylum claim may be treated as withdrawn by the Home Office if:

  • You do not maintain contact with the Home Office (this means answering phone calls, acknowledging that you have received letters, and filling out any questionnaires they may send you like the Streamlined Asylum Processing questionnaire)
  • You do not update your contact details (including address and telephone number) with the Home Office
  • You do not attend a reporting appointment at a Home Office reporting centre, unless you can show that this was not your fault 
  • You do not attend a scheduled interview with the Home Office unless you can show that this was not your fault 

In summary, if you do not attend reporting appointments, you may be at risk of detention, more distressing bail conditions or having your asylum claim withdrawn.

If you have concerns about missing a reporting appointment, you should discuss this with your lawyer if you have one, or a caseworker.

How to prepare in case of detention

If you are reporting, you may be at risk of being detained, and there are some things that you can and should do to be prepared. 

If you are being detained, make sure you don’t sign any legal documents that you don’t understand. If you have a lawyer, try to contact them as soon as possible.

  • If you are at risk of being detained, it is a good idea to write a list of emergency contacts, and to give a copy of this list to someone that you trust.
  • Make copies of all your documents. If you are detained, it may become impossible for you to access your documents if they are in your home. This means that vital evidence that a lawyer or a friend/supporter needs cannot be reached. You should have a copy of all your documents, not just your lawyer.
  • If you are on medication, take this with you when you go to report/sign at the Home Office. you will be issued with new medication once you are detained. Also, take a paper copy of your prescription for the medication with you.
  • If possible, give a friend a copy of your house or room key. If you are detained, they can go and get essential things for you from your house. Alternatively, give a consent letter in advance to a friend giving permission to access your room in asylum accommodation in case you are detained.
  • Your phone will probably be taken from you when you are detained. Keep your important numbers written down (you may want to write a list on a piece of paper and keep this inside your phone cover). 

For more detailed information about Immigration Detention and how to prepare, read our Toolkit page.

Joining or starting a signing support group 

At every reporting visit, you may be at risk of detention, particularly if your application has been refused, which you may not know until you go and report.

Some people call a friend just before they enter the reporting centre, with instructions for what to do and who to contact if they are detained. If the friend does not get a call within an hour or two to say they are safe, the friend can call their lawyer and/or support group if they have one.

In some areas, local support groups have set up systems to help with this. The person going to report will check-in with the group first, who keep a record of everyone’s contact details and emergency instructions of what to do if they do not come out.

A system like this can save valuable time: friends/supporters can start finding out exactly where you are, what has happened, and what can be done to help straight away.

A signing support system also means that when you go to sign, you know that people are looking out for you, and that there is a plan in place if things go wrong and they are detained.

This can reduce the psychological burden of reporting/signing at the Home Office. Signing support groups can also provide a safe space for valuable or sentimental items that you don’t want to keep with you in case the Home Office takes them. 

Read more about signing support groups here.

Leave a Reply

Please note Right to Remain cannot provide immigration legal advice that is specific to your individual asylum and immigration application.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.